city council

City Council Reboots Bike Initiative

Edmonton's planned high-quality bike routes 

After the bike wars of 2012, Edmonton city council has decided to rethink and reboot their strategy. Following the strong leadership of new councillor Michael Walters, YEG has decided to focus resources on building excellent, family-friendly bike infrastructure where cycling rates are already high, the city's core neighbourhoods.

So administration released the above map last week. Except for the 51s Avenue route, which to me doesn't follow the "build it in dense areas where the demand is highest" rule, I love the routes that they've suggested (these routes aren't set in stone, as they are subject to a new, very thorough consultation process that leaves the exact route as an option for the community to decide).

I did see something missing in the Strathcona area though. While there is a really nice grid downtown, there are no north-south routes in Edmonton's busiest cycling neighbourhood. So I attended a meeting of our most responsive level of government yesterday, and I was delighted with the results.

My proposal is to add a north-south route in the counterflow bus lane that travels north, parallel to Calgary Trail. I blogged about the idea here, and these are the simple pictures that I showed the transportation committee:

Proposed two-way cycle track on the 104 Street counterflow bus lane 

Location of the proposed two-way cycle track, the 104 Street counterflow bus lane  

I was very happy when the committee put forward a motion for administration to look into north-south routes in the Strathcona neighbourhood. Overall, the councillors were thoughtful and intelligent (With the exception of the always-hilarious Councillor Catarina. I know that I shouldn't say anything if I don't have anything nice to say, but Catarina's rude, uninformed manner were an insult to his post yesterday). 

What's Next?

Council is on the right track with its idea of only building Holland-quality routes, and putting them where they will be appreciated. So what in in store for the next six months? First of all, these routes are not yet funded. This Fall, council will vote on a four-year capital budget that may or may not fund the routes. It is critical to Edmonton's future as a cycling city that all of the routes (perhaps with the 51 Avenue one being replaced by a north-south Strathcona route) be fully funded. Secondly, these routes need to remain high quality. We, the cycling community, cannot accept any but the most minor concessions to them being high quality routes. No more sharrows! 


There are two consultation processes going on right now, one each for the 83rd Avenue and 102 Avenue routes. Participate in either or both processes (83rd here, and 102 here), and stress the need for safe, comfortable, high quality routes. Also, contact your city councillor about funding these routes in the Fall. They will be under pressure to save money in the budget, but the comparitively (to other traffic infrastructure) modest outlay that they will require needs to be allocated. 

Edmonton's bicycle riders have waited many years to have some infrastructure available to us. We are many years behind cities like Calgary and Vancouver. It's time to get these routes funded, and to build them well. Council didn't disappoint me yesterday, and I expect even more of them when it comes time to finally fund these safe, family-friendly bike routes.

Edmonton Votes, 2010

We vote for a new city council tomorrow. Three years ago we had the thrill of seeing Don Iveson defeat the always jerkish Mike Nickel. What will we see this year?

I'm pressed for time, but here are some short notes on what I hope will happen (sorry that it's incomplete).

Ward 7

I am strongly endorsing Scott Mckeen in this ward. He has been a proponent of smart urbanism for years now. Tony Catarina, on the hand, is fighting hard to bring back 1960s Edmonton. When the world still had most of its cheap easy oil in the ground and Edmonton had 250,000 people, that made some sense. Now? Not so much. Please vote for McKeen if you live in ward 7.

Ward 11

Kerry Diotte is another reality-denying (as in, there's no climate change and our economy will continue to grow forever), sprawl-supporting airport supporter. As far as I can tell, the best man beat him in ward 11 is Chinwe Okelu. He came very close to winning last time, making him the best hope to beat Diotte's strong campaign. I support Okelu in ward 11.

Ward 8

I will be voting for Ben Henderson. He totally gets it on issues ranging from urban sprawl to food security to LRT.


There's really no debate here - Mandel isn't perfect but he is pushing hard on the LRT and has the gumption to stop ugly architecture and close that damn waste of space airport. I endorse Stephen Mandel as mayor of Edmonton for the next three years.


Here's the obligatory section where I tell you to get out and vote.

However, I'm not going to do that. If you disagree with me - if you think that there's a huge pile of money at city hall waiting to be found by going over the budget "line by line", if you think that endless seas of vinyl siding on the edge of the city provide much needed choice for middle class families to park their SUVs in, if you think that climate change is a socialist hoax to transfer wealth to developing nations - don't vote tomorrow. Why would I encourage people to vote against my candidates?

If you are a green voter, please make the time to support the green candidates, the ones who will make a positive difference in Edmonton for the next three years. And tell your friends too. I look forward to seeing an intelligent, forward-thinking, airport-closing city council tomorrow night.


This Just In: Urban Sprawl Sucks!



Urban Sprawl is the bane of Edmonton’s existence. I wrote a letter to my councillors and mayor on the subject. I invite you to do the same.

Mayor Stephen Mandel

City of Edmonton

November 14, 2009

Re: Municipal Development Plan

Dear Mayor Mandel,

I was disappointed to hear about the contents of the Municipal Development Plan as reported by Scott McKeen in the Edmonton Journal on November 13. Specifically, I am very much against city council’s plan to greatly increase urban sprawl by allowing 75 percent of future growth to occur in new subdivisions in and around the outer ring road (Henday Drive).

Urban sprawl is a net financial drag on a city in the long run, especially compared to that same development being conducted within the currently developed area of said city. Therefore, by allowing new sprawl, city council is wasting taxpayers’ money.

It is especially frustrating that this inefficient use of money creates neighbourhoods that do not enhance the city culturally or aesthetically, and lock people into long-term patterns of living that are unhealthy and environmentally unfriendly. Furthermore, every time council approves a new neighbourhood, it weakens mine and reduces the services that my community receives.

I believe that, instead of living in fear that outlying municipalities will attract new citizens who want to live in the suburbs, Edmonton should market itself as an efficient, livable, walkable city with excellent transit and infrastructure. If that kind of city isn’t worth living in for some people because it does not have a dozen new suburban neighbourhoods for them to choose from, by all means let them waste another city’s money. Let another city run empty buses through their neighbourhoods and try to finance the repair of its sprawled out infrastructure.

I strongly urge you to push for zero percent new sprawl in our city. Let us boldly embrace our city’s developed limits as they stand today. We have dozens of neighbourhoods with room for hundreds of thousands of new citizens within our currently developed boundaries.

These neighbourhoods will only be beautiful, attractive, properly-serviced, healthy places with well-kept infrastructure if we stop urban sprawl in Edmonton immediately.


Conrad Nobert